Bail denied for MegaUpload's Kim DotCom

The founder of the cyberlocker service must stay in police custody in New Zealand until February 22, when an extradition hearing is expected. The U.S. has accused DotCom of masterminding a massive criminal piracy operation, and it wants him brought to Virginia to stand trial.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Kim DotCom (far right) will appeal a decision by a New Zealand court to deny him bail while he fights an attempt by the U.S. government to extradite him. 3News.co.nz/Screenshot by Jonathan Skillings/CNET

A New Zealand judge today denied bail for MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom in a federal antipiracy case, and his lawyer there said he will appeal the decision immediately.

Judge David McNaughton ruled that DotCom, who operates the popular cyberlocker service MegaUpload, will remain in custody until February 22, when an extradition hearing is expected, according to New Zealand news service TVNZ.

The U.S. government alleges that MegaUpload was a criminal operation that made money by enabling millions of people across the globe to pirate films, TV shows, music, and other media. Federal agents accuse the "MegaUpload Conspiracy" of costing copyright owners more than $500 million in damages. In addition to DotCom, six other associates were indicted in the United States on charges of money laundering, racketeering, and piracy. DotCom has denied any wrongdoing.

DotCom was arrested on Thursday in a raid at the mansion he leases outside Auckland. Authorities also pulled MegaUpload's site from the Internet.

Paul Davison, DotCom's lawyer in New Zealand, told reporters that he plans to appeal McNaughton's decision in the High Court as soon as possible, TVNZ reported.

Lawyers who represented the United States in DotCom's bail hearing argued that DotCom is an extreme flight risk and must be kept in custody. DotCom did not comply with police demands to surrender when they arrived at his home to arrest him.

Authorities found multiple passports and more than 30 credit cards, all with different names. DotCom's lawyer said he was scared and disorientated when police arrived, and he denied that DotCom would flee New Zealand, if granted bail.